I just want to encourage you today about forgiveness. I understand how hard it can be to do this when you’ve been terribly hurt. If you’ve been praying for years about this, know that God is working in your willingness. He is helping you on the days when you’re triggered by something or you remember something specific that happened. He is softening our hearts… All we have to do is continue to go to him and ask for help. He is our helper.
Today we’re talking about two brothers who know a lot about coming through great hurt and finding forgiveness. Buckle up – Here we go!
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Once there were two brothers and boy there was bad blood between them. Welcome to the Bible for Busy People. I’m Erica, and before I tell you the story of Jacob and Esau, I promise last time we met that I would tell you what God has been doing in my heart when it comes to forgiveness. It’s been a few years that I’ve been praying and asking God to help me forgive someone who hurt me deeply. And every time I thought about this person, I would say, okay, Lord, I forgive and [insert the name] again. Or, oh, why did it have to be this way or why couldn’t it have been that way? I would have those thoughts and one morning I was driving to work and it was about 4:35 AM and I instinctively prayed for this person and when I did, I didn’t feel the bad blood anymore. Now we weren’t related, but still there can be bad blood between friends, between coworkers, and so as I prayed for this person, I understood at that moment that the forgiveness had truly penetrated my heart and I felt different. And I just want to encourage you today, if you have been praying for years, God help me to forgive. I want to forgive this person, but I can’t do it. I can’t complete the transaction, so to speak. Just know that God is working in your willingness. He is helping you on the days when you’re triggered by something or you remember something specific that happened, he’s working on those days too. He is softening our hearts. All we have to do is continue to go to him and ask for help. He is our helper. And you’ll find one day, just like I found it might come out of the blue like it happened for me, that you will have truly forgiven that person. Alright. The story of Jacob and Esau is a very interesting one in the Bible. Esau was entitled to his father’s birthright. He was the first born and Jacob basically snookered him out of it. You kind of got to love the word snookered, right? Jacob wanted his father’s inheritance, his blessing, the birthright that actually belonged to his older brother. They were twins and Esau was born first. So, he devised a plan and he made Esau’s favorite stew. I was reading that it was a bean stew and he waited until Esau returned from a hunt, hungry, hangry. You’ve been there, right? Jacob caught Esau in a very weak moment. He had deceived their father, and now he deceived his brother, and Esau took the bait. You can imagine how angry he was and they separated for years. The two brothers, the bad blood remained until Jacob was traveling and he knew that Esau was ahead, and he sent a messenger to Esau saying, I’m coming with my wives and my children and my animals. He was probably terrified. How would his brother react when he saw him after all of these years? Would the bad blood remain? We pick up this incredibly dramatic story in the book of Genesis chapter 33, beginning in verse one.
Then Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming with his 400 men.
400 men. Can you imagine? What did that mean?
So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and his two servant wives. 2 He put the servant wives and their children at the front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. 3 Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him.
Maybe a little repentant or terrified. How about a mixture? Verse four.
Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.
I want to pitch a little tent here because I’m just thinking about how Jacob must have felt so relieved. I mean, maybe he was thinking, is my brother going to murder my whole family and me? Is he still that angry? And just the relief and the joy of knowing not only does he not want to kill me in my family, but he embraced me. He put his arms around my neck. To me, that is a picture of forgiveness at its finest and embrace. Verse five now.
Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked, “Who are these people with you?” “These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant,” Jacob replied.
Listen how humble Jacob got.
Then the servant wives came forward with their children and bowed before him. 7 Next came Leah with her children, and they bowed before him. Finally, Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed before him. 8 “And what were all the flocks and herds I met as I came?” Esau asked. Jacob replied, “They are a gift, my lord, to ensure your friendship.” 9 “My brother, I have plenty,” Esau answered.
Did you hear what he said, my brother, it’s beautiful.
“Keep what you have for yourself.” 10 But Jacob insisted, “No, if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!
Oh my goodness. You realize that when you forgive someone, I’ve never seen this before in this passage, you are showing them the face of God. I could go on, but I actually want to pause here today. I want to wrap up our time right here. When you and I forgive someone, we’re showing them the love of God, the face of God, the kindness of God. Trust me, I know it’s hard. I’ve shared with you a little bit of my journey. I have had to forgive several people for very hurtful things that were done to me in my life. But you know what? Knowing that when I forgive, I’m showing someone else God, that is so powerful and so meaningful to me. I hope it’s meaningful to you as well. Because you and I are so loved, we can show this kind of love. We can express this kind of forgiveness. I want to be clear and say that it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process. But God is patient with us. He is merciful toward us, and I do believe He wants very much for us to extend that mercy to others. To show others what he’s like. He’s so good. Until next time, you are really loved.
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